If you have a case of “spring fever” and you are anxious to get your yard full of colors and flowers, you don’t have to wait until the “date of the last frost” as is the common belief. In many areas, you can start planting as soon as the snow melts.
Brian Lloyd, from Olson’s Greenhouses, shares three tricks for getting color in your yard earlier than ever.
TRICK 1 – Fix Your Dirt
It has been said by the late Larry Sagers, when “Brigham Young declared ‘this is the right place’, he wasn’t talking about Utah soil.” That rich, black topsoil the pioneers left behind in the Midwest grows some awesome flowers. We are stuck with yellow sand or brown clay that just isn’t up to snuff. The trick to great soil and therefore great flowers: AMEND YOUR SOIL. Average soils across the nation are made up of 5% organic matter; typical Utah soils have less than 1/5th that amount. By adding organic matter such as compost, peat moss, sawdust, or manures, we can fix the texture and nutrient levels of our soil. If you have clay soil, the added bonus of increased organic matter is increased drainage, so we can get out and plant earlier after the snow melts.
· Do you have sandy soil? Add any organic matter, such as peat moss, to help increase the water holding capacity and nutrient levels
· Do you have clay soil? Add coarse organic matter, such as sawdust, to help loosen the soil and allow roots to penetrate
· All soil types can benefit from composted material
· Add 2-3″ organic matter
· Till down to a depth of 6-12″
TRICK 2 – Pick Frost Tolerant Varieties
You CAN plant annuals before the average last frost date, as long as you pick the right stuff. There are many cold-hardy annuals that will add a strong punch of color to your landscape to cure your winter duldrums! These varieties can tolerate short periods of frost down to 28 degrees. In addition, most perennials can be planted as soon as you find them available for sale. Pick from these varieties and enjoy an extended season of gardening.
· Pansies & Violas
· Primula (Primrose)
TRICK 3 – Use Containers, They’re Mobile
The ultimate combination is to pair cold-hardy plants and a moveable container that you can bring indoors if the weather goes sour. Usually, the garage or some sort of overhead protection can give these annuals just enough to get them through those occasional hard frosts we get in the Spring. Just remember to get them back outdoors into the sun as soon as possible. Most annuals and perennials will not tolerate more than a day or two without natural daylight.
Olson’s Greenhouses provide flowers to many local garden centers,
as well as Home Depot and Walmart stores.